The Origins of American Concours d'Elegance Events and Their Love of Brass Era Cars

The Origins of American Concours d'Elegance and Their Love of Brass Era Cars  by Mike Thies

Concours d'Elegance is a French term meaning "competition of elegance" and refers to a showcase of historic and/or classic automobiles. They have a long and rich history, with roots that can be traced back to France in the early 1700s. The first Concours d'Elegance was held in the gardens of Versailles, and it was a competition to determine which horse-drawn carriages were the most stylish and elegant. Over time, the Concours d'Elegance evolved to include automobiles, and today, these events are a showcase of some of the finest and most historic automobiles in the world.

In the United States, Concours d'Elegance events began to gain popularity in the mid 20th century, as automobiles became more widely available and collecting and restoring them became a popular hobby. The first American Concours d'Elegance was held at Pebble Beach, California 1950, and since then, these events have grown in popularity and prestige.

One of the defining characteristics of Concours d'Elegance events is their love of Brass Era cars. Brass Era cars are vehicles that were manufactured between 1895 and 1917, and they are considered to be some of the earliest and most historic automobiles in the world. Brass Era cars are characterized by their distinctive brass fittings and trim, and they were a symbol of luxury and sophistication during a time when the automobile was still a relatively new invention.

The love of Brass Era cars at American Concours d'Elegance events is driven by a number of factors. Firstly, these cars represent a turning point in the history of the automobile, and they are a testament to the ingenuity and creativity of early automobile manufacturers. Secondly, Brass Era cars are highly sought after by collectors and enthusiasts, who appreciate their historical significance and their beautiful design and engineering.

it is estimated that there are over 250 car manufacturers in the middle of the era. Many were poised as vehicles for the wealthier and most were built one at a time.  They are prized by collectors but are expensive to restore and maintain, and most are not easily driven on modern roads.  A large number have been left unseen in private collections and many are sitting in museums around the world.

The growth of Concours d’Elegance events provides an opportunity for the collectors to bring out their prized high quality brass era cars into a competition, where they can be appreciated by a viewing public. 

. When it comes to judging Brass Era cars, there are several key factors to consider:

  • Authenticity: The originality and authenticity of the car are crucial in determining its value and worth. This includes the originality of the engine, body, and interior components.
  • Condition: The car should be in pristine condition, with no rust, dents, or other signs of wear and tear. The paint and chrome should be in good condition, and the car should have a bright and shiny appearance.
  • Provenance: The history of the car, including its previous owners, where it was manufactured, and when it was produced, can add to its value and significance.
  • Rarity: Rare or one-of-a-kind cars are highly sought after and will often fetch higher prices at auctions and concours events.
  • Documentation: Documentation such as original owner's manuals, service records, and other historical records can help to establish the authenticity and provenance of the car.
  • Technical features: The technical features of the car, such as its engine type, power output, and transmission, can impact its value and worth, especially for Brass Era cars, which were often groundbreaking in their design and engineering.

When evaluating a Brass Era car, it is important to consider all of these factors and to have a deep understanding of the historical context and significance of the car. This can help to ensure that the car is properly valued and that it is appreciated for its unique qualities and contributions to automotive history.


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Comment by Pia Blunt on February 6, 2023 at 8:47pm

By the way, I visited a car show with a conceptual theme: "competition of elegance" and it really refers to the demonstration of historical and/or classic cars. I was in Dublin then and specially rented a car for the trip. If you are also going to Dublin, I highly recommend this service, visit website.

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